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Washington, DC — A June 2 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia allows the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to continue enforcing an eviction moratorium.
This comes despite federal courts in three states (Ohio, Tennessee and Texas) ruling the ban on evictions unconstitutional. The CDC, a bureaucracy not authorized by the U.S. Constitution to begin with, under the Trump administration claimed authority last September to ban evictions claiming it would help slow the spread of COVID-19, and it has continued the eviction moratorium under the Biden administration extending the moratorium to June 30.
The ban had previously been set to expire on March 31.
Lawyers with the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) have been fighting this authoritarian measure from the CDC. One of those lawyers, John Vecchione, told a CBS affiliate in Virginia that “most states just leave it to the tenants” to be honest with their landlords.
“Once the tenants aren’t getting evicted and aren’t paying rent, there’s sort of a moral hazard there whereby you kind of see what people are made of,” Vecchione said. He added: “Some people do everything possible to get the landlord paid, some people don’t do anything. Then the landlord still has to provide heat and water and keep the property up and pay the taxes, but they’re not getting rent.”
Although the CDC’s measure is immoral no matter which landlords its damaging, whether rich or poor, it is hurting the middle and lower class the most. The Hamilton Project studied the data and found that a majority of American landlords are individual investors, most owning a single rental property. It detailed four key points from the data:
- “Among landlord households, about 30 percent are low- to moderate-income (earning annual household incomes of less than $90,000).”
- “Property income comprises a greater proportion of low- to moderate-income landlord households’ total income than it does for higher income landlord households.”
- “Property income for landlord households earning less than $50,000 provides nearly 20 percent of their total household income.”
- “Property income only represents 5 percent of total household income for landlord households earning over $200,000.”
A press release from the NCLA detailed the problems this moratorium has caused for their client Rick Brown of Virginia.
The NCLA states that Brown “is suffering significant economic damages, including $8,092 in unpaid rent, as well as monthly maintenance costs, damages to his property, and the lost opportunity to use the property or rent it to someone else who would be able to pay the fair market value of at least $925 per month. Incredibly, under the unlawful CDC order, Mr. Brown also faces up to $100,000 and a year in prison if he evicts the delinquent tenant using legal processes under Virginia state law.”
The NCLA adds that “the CDC… has now issued a sweeping unilateral order purporting to suspend state law under the premise that it was ‘necessary’ to control the pandemic. The order denies Mr. Brown his right to access the courts to obtain a writ of eviction to take possession of his own property by the only lawful means available to him to evict a delinquent tenant. Agencies have no inherent power to make law, and nothing in the relevant statutes or regulations gives CDC the power or authority to issue an eviction-moratorium order.”
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